By Rev. Daniel England

I came across an article lately by Peter Marty in the Christian Century. (I presume he is the son of Martin Marty with whom I crossed paths earlier in my life). He wrote this:

"A parishioner told me recently that her daughter's family had found the perfect church in Dallas. "They don't go often," she said, "because the church live streams its services. They can watch it anytime. If the kids are playing in the family room or Mom or Dad are busy pulling brunch together, they can have worship on in the background. It's really neat. Have you ever heard of this?"

"Yes," I told her, "I know all about live streaming." My eyes must have reflected a lack of interest because the conversation moved on to other topics."

Now, I'm all for the church using social media and any other electronic means that keeps people connected, especially if it's used to reach people, like shut-ins or others for whom coming to church is not possible.

But there is something perverse about the situation the woman describes. Yes, our faith must necessarily be personal if it is to make a real difference to our lives. It must be so much a part of our consciousness that we can do few things, make few decisions, have few conversations without reflecting on what implication they have for the way we are living out the Christian life. But since the beginning, Christianity has necessarily been a shared activity, lived out in community.

In fact, we are more than a community: Paul got it right when he realized that the church is really Christ's body, a living breathing reality that carries out Kingdom building and people saving together. But if we experience the other parts of the body, those people with whom we have to do, remotely, as a streaming unreality of images that do not actually touch us and with whom we need not interact, then how are we Christ's body? To put it baldly, if Christ's body is scattered all over town on Sunday morning, how can it act and feel as one?

Yes, coming to church is inconvenient and trying to get things done with people who you didn't hand pick can test us. It certainly isn't as safe as staying home eating brunch. But it was never intended to be that. True faith is hard. Just ask Jesus and consider his cross.

Talk about inconvenient...